The Information Commissioner’s Office has vowed to continue the fight against nuisance calls and texts – for which it has issued fines totalling more than £1m – despite a sharp decline in the number of complaints.
In the wake of the regulator’s latest fine – £50,000 slapped on Amber Windows – ICO director of operations Simon Entwisle says there has been “no let up” in its pursuit of those responsible for nuisance calls and texts.
However, the ICO has seen a decline in the number of reports made to its office since a peak in March 2013. But while the number of nuisance calls being made appears to be reducing, this is still a developing area of the law and the ICO recognises the challenges this represents.
Last week, the Government opened a consultation on whether to make it easier to fine companies and claims management firms could face fines of up to 20% of their annual turnover. The Government estimates that there are more than a billion nuisance calls made a year.
Entwisle said: “While we await this change to the law, we are not only continuing to use our existing penalty powers, but also looking at other ways to deter and ultimately punish companies that we find to be recklessly and knowingly breaking the law.”
He said one of the options the ICO has been increasingly exploring is its power to issue companies with an enforcement notice. The notice is a legal order that, if breached, can lead to the criminal prosecution of a company’s owner.
Just last month, it issued two companies – Isisbyte and SLM Connect – with enforcement notices after discovering that both companies were responsible for making nuisance calls, while giving out false information in order to hide their identity.
Enwisle added: “While the level of complaints against both companies currently remains too low for us to issue monetary penalties, ordering them to improve their practices with an enforcement notice places their owners in the firing line and still leaves us with an option to fine them at a later date if they continue to break the law and we can prove their actions are causing substantial damage and distress.”
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